Neda calls for creation of ‘Department of Water’

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TO INTEGRATE the country’s regulation of water and achieve water security, the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) is advocating for the establishment of a Department of Water and a Water Regulatory Commission.

The Neda, in a policy note released on May 17, 2024, stressed the need to integrate water governance and regulation to ensure equitable access to water resources for all Filipinos.

Neda Secretary Arsenio Balisacan stressed the urgency of this issue, particularly in the face of climate change.

“Our strategies are aimed at strengthening water security, ecological integrity, and resilience to hazards by improving water governance through integrated water resource management,” he said in a statement.

“This move is also in line with the Integrated Water Resources Management Plan (IWRMP), which aims to ensure that everyone has access to sufficient water supply at any given time,” he added.

In his Executive Order 22, issued on April 27, 2023, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. created the Water Resources Management Office in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

One of the office’s tasks includes the creation of IWRMP.

Uneven distribution

Neda’s policy note states that the Philippines, despite being rich in water resources, faces uneven distribution and lags behind neighboring Southeast Asian countries in access to basic sanitation services.

The policy note also emphasized that population growth is increasing the demand for water, raising the risk of water scarcity in parts of the Philippines by 2050.

Balisacan said the current fragmentation of responsibilities across multiple agencies hinders effective water management and service delivery.

“Without a central agency responsible for water policy, there is a heavy reliance on ad hoc coordination. Conflicting priorities among agencies result in uncoordinated planning and strategies, as well as inconsistencies in the enforcement of water policies and standards,” Balisacan said.

“Our push for the creation of a central entity in the water sector will also help us institutionalize the collection and consolidation of water-related data that will help us produce more informed assessments and formulate smarter solutions in the utilization and management of our resources,” he added. / KAL

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